AROUND half of all alcoholic drinks sold in Scotland will increase in price when the government’s minimum unit pricing legislation comes into effect.

A report from Neilsen Homecare found that, by volume, the vast majority of spirits and beers bought in the country currently falls below the 50p per unit threshold.

Their research also showed that half of all cider purchased also falls below the pending floor price, though this was the case for only 3.4 per cent of all wine sales.

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Furthermore, when assessing the top 50 selling alcoholic products, the study found 76 per cent of the most popular spirits falls below the minimum pricing level, compared to 74 per cent of beer, 54 per cent of cider and 12 per cent in wine.

It has long been argued the low cost of alcohol has a deleterious impact on public health as well as having a direct link to some crime and anti-social behaviour.

Alison Douglas, chief executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland, said: "As this report demonstrates, Scotland's supermarkets and shops are awash with cheap alcohol. It is costing us dear with 22 Scots dying as a result of alcohol consumption each and every week.

"Minimum pricing will mainly affect the low-cost, high strength drinks favoured by harmful drinkers and younger drinkers, in particular cheap vodka and strong ciders.

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"Moderate drinkers would only pay on average an extra £2 per year. This is a small price to pay."

With 50p per unit pricing, a two-litre bottle of cider will soon cost no less than £5, as opposed to the current £3, with the price of cheap vodkas rising from £10 to £13.

A single can of regular-strength lager will cost at least 90p each, meaning crates of 12 could be no cheaper than £10.80.

Buckfast sales will remain unaffected by the changes.

The Scottish Government passed the law four years ago; however, implementation has been held up by a protracted legal appeal, led by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), which claimed the provisions were a restriction on trade.

However, last month the Court of Session ruled the legislation lawful, with the government set to bring the policy into effect in the near future.

Aileen Campbell MSP, public health minister, said: “Minimum unit pricing is the most proportionate and effective way to reduce the harm caused specifically by cheap, high strength alcohol.

“The drinks industry must now respect the democratic will of the Scottish Parliament and the ruling of the Court of Session and enable this life-saving measure to be introduced.”

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However, the Neilsen Homecare report highlighted a number of implications which could result from minimum unit pricing.

Marika Praticó, senior client manager at consumer survey firm, argued makers of wine and premium brands spirits are likely to benefit as the price differential between them and cheaper brands will diminish.

In addition, there could be an increase in cross-border shopping similar to the “Calais run” and the stockpiling of alcohol before the legislation comes into force.